MEDINA, Ohio – The generosity of a 14-year-old Ohio boy had both tears and donations flowing during an auction at the Medina County Fair.
When Austin Lettner decided to auction his 230-pound hog Millhouse, he decided not to keep the money for himself.
“One day my parents just asked me, well asked me and (my brother) Logan if we wanted to keep the money for our pigs or donate it, and we said donate the money,” Austin said.
The decision was made to donate the proceeds from the auction to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He hoped to raise about $1,000.
“The people that we are donating the money to, they need the money more than we do. No kid should have cancer,” he added.
When the auction for Millhouse started on Sunday, the bidding soared. Bidders ran the price far above the average to an amazing $12 a pound, raising nearly $3,000.
But the auction was far from over.
The auctioneer told those in the barn that, while they don’t normally do this, they would open it up for anyone who wanted to donate an additional dollar a pound to go directly to the charity.
“It was a sea of cards that just came up,” said Jamie Lettner, Austin’s father.
More than 20 people bid an additional $230 with one bidder giving $500.
“All the way through here there wasn’t a dry eye from the biggest burliest men to the highest paid-guy in here. Everybody was just tearing up and crying, they were so proud of these boys and themselves. They should be extremely proud of themselves for coming and and supporting these children. Not just mine, but all of them,” Lettner said.
“It was just an amazing feeling to me to see everyone throwing up their signs and bidding for it,” Austin said.
When the bidding finished, the effort raised more than $11,000.
“They are not farmers. They run gravel pits, they run shoe stores to have them come out and put that money back into their community, it’s a beautiful thing,” the boy’s father said.
“It just shows the quality of people here in Medina County, that individuals would do something like that and the buyers would do so much more on top of it,” said Michael Gall, the livestock sale president.
“It’s just so heartwarming and it makes you feel good as a parent that my children chose to donate some of their money, instead of keeping it for themselves. They could have done a lot with that money, but instead they chose to help kids and families who need it more than they do,” said Stacey Lettner, Austin’s mother.
To magnify the charitable effort, the buyers donated Millhouse to help feed people through another local charity.
Later, when Austin sold another of his hogs, the bidders rewarded him for his charitable contribution by bidding $10 a pound.
Both Logan and Austin hope their charitable efforts will inspire other members of 4-H, a youth development organization, to do the same thing.
“What makes me happy is when the whole family comes out and supports the fair supports the kids,” said fair board president Bob Toth.
During the fair, many 4-H members show their animals that they have spent months raising.
“The goal is to get it to proper weight. They are invited to the auction. They are able to sell at auction and hopefully, the proceeds pays for the cost of that animal and all that feed,” Toth said.